In April 2016, I noticed a friend had lost weight and looked great. A few days later I chose to follow her plan and I lost over 15 pounds in 30 days. I followed the plan again a few weeks after with my husband (shocker!) and I lost another 10 and he lost nearly 20 pounds. More importantly my relationship with food (I’ll explain later what that means) had changed. I had read It All Starts With Food and followed the Whole30 program. I felt great.
The Other Soccer Mom Weight Loss
As any mom wanting to lose weight would tell you, I immediatly wanted to learn how my friend had done it. Did she starve herself and workout a million hours a day? I was always assuming that the latest craze would not work for me. She briefly told me about It All Starts with Food which she had read and how it didn’t “require” any additional exercise. (Note: I am intimidated by rigorous exercise because of the delicacy of my knee – I sustained a huge knee injury in 2008 that has given me limits on what I can and cannot do.)
So, at this point I knew there was a book with a plan that had worked for a friend and no crazy exercise. I was sold. I went to my Amazon app right at soccer practice and ordered the book. It arrived two days later. Over a few days read the book – skimming through some parts that were too much to maintain my attention – a lot of science-y talk. I went online and searched for recipes and stories of experiences. I was sold and had nothing to lose, but weight!
Whole30 is not a weight loss program. It is a nutritional cleanse of sorts that gets you to retrain your mind on foods and your needs. It’s not meant to be followed for a 1,000,000 days. At minimum you need to commit for 30. After that you decide how much longer.
Whole30 Shopping & Planning
That Sunday I went to Publix with a big list of what I could buy and ingredients that I needed to stay clear from. It was difficult. Sugar is a big NO NO on Whole30. You’ll be surprised how sugar is added to SO MANY foods. Finding a chicken broth that doesn’t have sugar (or any of its forms) listed as an ingredient it so difficult. I challenge you to go to your market and find one.
I made a menu plan for the week and felt confident. For me, I need to do everything possible to set myself up for success. I needed to rid my house of food temptations. I needed to load the refrigerator drawers with foods that were compliant. It was hard, but I did it.
Whole30 with the Family
I serve breakfast and dinner at the house. The kids are given lunch at school and my husband typically goes out to eat for lunch. Breakfast for the kids didn’t change much. A banana, a bowl of cereal or a muffin usually was enough for them – it wasn’t Whole30 compliant but that was ok, for them. Dinner is where I went a Whole30 on them.
I knew I couldn’t sacrifice flavor and I didn’t. There are excellent recipes all over the Internet that the entire family enjoyed and kept me us compliant. I learned how to tweak family favorite recipes by adjusting some ingredients so we could continue to enjoy them. I often made dinners big enough to have loads of leftovers for me. On Whole30 you learn to stop calling meals breakfast, lunch and dinner. Alternatively, we call it meal 1, meal 2, meal 3 and so on. So a grilled pork chop with roasted sweet potatoes is a great meal 1 for me. Yes, I eat what you call a dinner before 9 AM and am losing weight.
Whole30 Relationship with Food
Many say that it takes a few weeks to break a habit. I agree. Within a few weeks following Whole30 I viewed food differently. It was no longer something I craved but it was something I enjoyed, when I needed it. I was able to serve my kids a dessert and not even think about licking the spoon. I would just toss the spoon in the sink. How did that happen? The chemical cravings (I compare it to a drug) that our bodies have with certain food in no joke. But you CAN OVERCOME those cravings when you realize that all they are is cravings – not the actual nutritional need to have a food.
Whole30 Compliant vs Not Compliant
The biggest parts of being compliant on Whole30 means:
- eating the foods that are compliant. That means, not eating:
- grains – no breads, rices, quinoa… but YES to potatoes!!
- legumes – that includes beans and even soy
- sugar – you’ll learn to look for all the different ways brands sneak sugar in – dextrose, carmel color, cane sugar…
- not eating foods that are not compliant – not even a lick
- not drinking any alcohol – not even a sip
- keeping your plate compliant with the meal template.
- eating a fat (avocado, olives, added oil..) with EVERY meal.
- not weighing yourself at any point during the time you’re on the program. You weigh yourself on day 1 and that’s it until you’re done. (Yes, if you decide to weigh yourself on Day 15 you’ll need to start all over again on Day 1 the next day!)
As a smart mama, I strongly believe in setting oneself up for success. For Whole30, you need to have not only the right foods in your home but the right resources accessible. Here are a few of my favorite sites that I rely on to stay compliant on Whole30.
- The book! You MUST read the book. Without reading the book you’ll have so many questions. The book will teach you how and why to follow the plan.
- Facebook Support Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Whole30FirstTimersSupport/ I go here ALL THE TIME. If I’m at the supermarket and I come across a food that I am questioning if it is compliant, I’ll take a photo of its ingredients and post it here. Quickly other members of the group will chime in to let me know. Total lifesaver.
- There are often start date specific support groups popping up on Facebook. Be on the lookout.
- The Whole30 Timeline. This is HUGE. Your body and mind will go through a lot during the 30+ days that you are on the program. I regularly check the timeline to justify how I’m feeling. Beware – the sugar dragon is dangerous! And let me know what you think of Tiger Blood!
- Dump Ranch and Homemade Mayo – Both of these are valuable to have on hand during Whole30. Traditional store bought mayo has soybean oil in it. On Whole30 you cannot have soybean. I make mayo every week. I add it to all sorts of meals. the Dump Ranch is awesome. I’ve never been a big ranch dressing fan but there is something with recipe that I love. My kids love it, too!
- Nom Nom Paleo – Excellent website that has many Whole30 recipes. My family LOVES Cracklin’ Chicken. I even have her cookbook.
- Stupid Easy Paleo – Lots of recipes that yummy and easy to make. Just make sure that the ingredients are Whole30 compliant not just paleo.
- The Whole30 Guide with Cookbook
- Pinterest – BE CAREFUL HERE!!! Many people are posting recipes and tagging them Whole30 and they are not. You must read through the recipe and most importantly the ingredients to see if it is. I have created a WHOLE30 Pinterest Board that has compliant recipes only. Be sure to follow the board.
Paleo vs Whole30
You’ll notice that Paleo and Whole30 do cross paths but they are NOT THE SAME. There are a lot of similarities but one thing that is remarkably different is that Paleo allows for forms of sugar, like raw honey or unsweetened chocolate. Those are not compliant for Whole30.
Does Whole30 Work?
It works for me. I can’t promise that it will work with every person. But for me, it works well. I enjoy many of the foods I love. I retrain my brain and body to NOT want/crave foods that it doesn’t need. I’ve lost over 30 pounds and am no longer a slave to a piece of chocolate or a bowl of cereal. I’ve learned to follow the meal template with every eating experience I have, having the right proportion of protein, vegetables and fat on every plate I serve.
Whole30 Moving Forward
I have completed two full rounds of Whole30. In between rounds and even now, I maintain compliant eating but do, at times, eat/drink non-compliant foods. I am careful with the amount and get right back “on the horse” soon there after. This works for me. I look forward to committing to more Whole30 rounds in the future and supporting those who are joining me in these efforts. Please note that those days when I’m enjoying a glass of wine I can’t say that I’m doing Whole30, but the next day when I am 100% compliant I am.
I wish you luck as you begin your Whole30 journey. Please reach out to me with any questions you may have.
Wow! What a fabulously informative post! I’m so glad that Whole 30 is really working well for you and your post makes me more inclined to try it when I’m not running half marathons! Congrats to you and Tom!!!
Thanks Leticia! I tried it on whim and loved it. I maintain a semi-compliant lifestyle between rounds right now, and that works for me.
Julian and I did it. My biggest surprise was no bacon without sugar! I would buy bacon from the butcher shop at whole foods. I’m thinking of doing it again to cleanse… but it’s hard for me as I don’t eat much veggies on a regular basis.